Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to uphold the welfare of teachers as ‘NCR Plus’ has been placed under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Aside from strictly implementing the alternative work arrangement, Gatchalian reiterated the need to assure teachers of access to COVID-19 testing and treatment should they fall ill with the coronavirus. He also pressed the need to move teachers up in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination since they sacrifice their health and safety as frontliners for learning continuity.
Last year, the DepEd said that teachers and its employees are covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for COVID-19 hospitalization and treatment. The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) also provides the Employees’ Compensation (EC) Program with income, medical, and other health benefits in the event of work-related sickness, injury, or death. Gatchalian emphasized, however, that these programs have to be cascaded down to the last teacher and non-teaching staff to continue boosting their morale.
“Sa kabila ng muling pagtaas ng kaso ng COVID-19 at ngayong nagsisimula na ang ating vaccination program, hindi natin dapat pabayaan ang kaligtasan at kapakanan ng ating mga guro at kawaning nagsasakripisyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon sa gitna ng pandemya,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
“Kailangang bigyan natin sila ng katiyakan na may matatakbuhan sila at makatatanggap sila ng suporta kung sakaling tamaan sila ng sakit,” he added.
When it comes to testing, Gatchalian backs the use of saliva tests, which promises lower cost and faster results. The saliva tests are currently available through the Philippine Red Cross.
In moving teachers up the priority list, Gatchalian has been pushing for the inclusion of basic education teachers in the A4 priority list, which includes frontline personnel in essential sectors and uniformed personnel. Teachers are currently part of the B1 priority list together with social workers. Adopted Resolution No. 92, which Gatchalian sponsored, also called for the prioritization of teachers in the COVID-19 vaccination program.